You are here

International Strategic Partnership Initiative

As technology and globalization make the world a smaller place, increased global and cultural awareness have become essential skills for 21st -century U.S. citizens. Museums and libraries are well positioned to help foster these proficiencies for Americans. These valued community institutions are centers for intercultural learning, ideal venues for cross-cultural communication, and prime partners for international collaborations. They are rich in collections, exhibits, programs, digital networks, and other resources to connect people, institutions, and communities across the globe.

Throughout its history, IMLS has emphasized the important role museums and libraries can play in facilitating global understanding and the sharing of experiences. Through establishing partnerships with overseas cultural agencies and ministers, initiating programs with international components, participating in international policy meetings, hosting foreign museum and library professionals, and convening U.S. professionals to explore ways to connect with their global counterparts, IMLS encourages dialogue that is critical in our increasingly globalized world.

While IMLS does not make grants to non-U.S. libraries and museums, such institutions located abroad may partner with eligible U.S. institutions on an IMLS-funded grant project. International partnerships should demonstrate how the knowledge gained by such international activities can directly support American museums and libraries in their missions, and thus benefit the American people.

Tang Gengsheng, Secretary General of the Library Society of China (L), and Shuyong Jiang (R), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Tang Gengsheng, Secretary General of the Library Society of China (L), and Shuyong Jiang (R), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, celebrate the extension of their partnership during the 5th China-North America Library Conference in Beijing, September 2010. The partnership, jointly supported by IMLS and the Chinese Ministry of Culture, is funded through 2011 to train Chinese librarians in U.S. library public service practices and to create a portal of online Chinese resources, with both Chinese and English interfaces.


IMLS Spotlight on Global Projects

International Plant Collections Portal

Beijing Botanical Garden
Beijing Botanical Garden

In 2005, IMLS awarded a National Leadership Grant to the Chicago Botanic Garden, in collaboration with the North American Plant Collections Collaborative of the American Public Gardens Association, the University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Center and Natural History Museum, Morphbank at Florida State University School of Computational Sciences, Google Base, Beijing Botanical Garden (China), and the National Trust (UK) to develop PlantCollections, an internationally linked database system that aims to provide access to the records of more than 50,000 taxa in collections located in botanic gardens and arboreta around the world. The project, now online, strengthens relationships among worldwide living collections institutions and fosters information sharing with the public. For more information see

Educating Librarians in the Middle East: Building Bridges for the 21st Century: ELIME-21

The American University in Cairo
The American University in Cairo

In 2010, IMLS awarded a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant to the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in partnership with the university's Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilization, to launch a program to promote graduate-level education in library and information science at two universities-the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. Six doctoral students will earn joint degrees from the two UNC programs and will be involved with SILS faculty in providing on-site and distance learning opportunities for students at the two universities. The project will help to prepare future U.S. library educators to be knowledgeable about the Middle East and will promote collaboration among libraries in areas such as collection development and cataloging of Arabic-language resources.


International Visitors and Travel 

IMLS staff members frequently meet with delegations from foreign museums and libraries, through contacts from the U.S. State Department, foreign embassies, and other cultural organizations. These meetings are opportunities for our staff to provide information on IMLS and its activities in U.S. museums and libraries, and to learn about our colleagues around the world. IMLS has recently met with visitors from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Korea, Japan, Morocco, Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania, and Russia.

IMLS staff members have traveled abroad for professional meetings and events or participated in cultural delegations to the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Canada, China, Germany, Haiti, Italy, France, Norway, Senegal, Scotland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

If you are interested in meeting with IMLS staff while in Washington, DC on international travel, please contact Michele Farrell (

Italian visitors Romanian visitors
IMLS staff meet with Mr. Dario Nardella (R), President of the Commission for Education, Sport, and Cultural Politics, Florence City Council, Italy, who is accompanied by interpreter
Mr. Max Ullmann (L).
IMLS staff meet with Romanian visitors Ms. Adina Doroltan (L), Librarian, American Corner Coordinator at Petre Dulfu County Library, Baia Mare, and Rodica Toma (R), American Corner Coordinator at Ovidius University,